• Biden's energy plan calls for net-zero emissions by 2050, saying the oil industry has to go because of pollution
  • Biden denies he would eliminate fracking, an issue in the key swing state of Pennsylvania
  • The oil industry lobbying group API calls Biden's proposed leasing ban "extreme"

President Donald Trump and the oil industry tried to gin up fears of a Democratic victory in energy producing swing states with Election Day little more than a week away, warning of job and revenue losses if Joe Biden’s plan to transition to clean energy sources is implemented.

The oil industry’s top lobbying group, the American Petroleum Institute, launched a barrage of ads in recent weeks and Trump accused Biden on Thursday night during their debate of wanting to “destroy” the oil industry despite Biden’s assurances he’s aiming for a “transition … over time” to reduce pollution.

Climate change, which Biden has characterized as an existential threat, has taken center stage during the campaign after more than three years of the Trump administration whittling away at environmental regulations, a record wildfire season in the West and hurricane season in the South, and rising global temperatures. Biden has proposed net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Basically what he is saying is he would destroy the oil industry,” Trump said. “Would you remember that Texas? Would you remember that Pennsylvania? Oklahoma, Ohio?”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott jumped on the issue.

Kendra Horn, a Democrat running for Congress in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, said she opposes Biden’s plan.

API bought 30-second spots in Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Minnesota and elsewhere that warn of job and state revenue losses if the “extreme” action of a leasing ban is implemented. The spots also blame California’s rolling blackouts on policies that have hamstrung the gas industry.

At the end of 2018, the oil industry employed 6.7 million Americans.

Trump accused Biden of wanting to ban fracking, the process that liberates oil and natural gas from rock formations. Biden denied the accusation.

In 2015, the US. drilled 300,000 hydraulically fractured wells, accounting for 67% of U.S. natural gas production and 51% of crude oil production. Nationally, it employed 156,900 people at the end of September.

The issue is a volatile one in Pennsylvania where nearly 8% of its more than 10,000 gas wells employ the process. Trump carried Pennsylvania by a fraction in 2016, but the most recent poll this week has Biden ahead by 7 points.

Biden has spent weeks wooing the state, and observers raised the possibility Thursday night’s clash could have a major impact.

Whether fracking survives, however, may not be up to either candidate. The process is expensive and the global drop in energy prices as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has forced companies to suspend operations.

Fracking operations need $50 a barrel to break even. Crude oil futures on Friday were priced at less than $40.